Ear buds: Are they Safe or Not?


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It is a common practice to use ear buds to clean our ears, but how safe is it? Earbuds are made of thin plastic straw-like materials with cotton wrapped on each end and are easily available in medical stores. People use them to clean their ear wax and it is habitual just like brushing your teeth. However, health care professionals advise that ear buds should not be used to clean ears. Ear wax is a natural substance produced by your ears, it acts as a barrier and protects the ear from dust, microorganisms, water and foreign particles. Here are some reasons why you should avoid using ear buds to clean your ears.

It will push down the ear wax

While it is good to use ear buds to clean the outer part of your ears, if you use them to clean the inner part of your ears, you are pushing the ear wax down and deeper into the ear canal. Sometimes, along with the earwax, you are also pushing down foreign particles present inside your ear. This can lead to several problems like ear pain and loss of hearing.

It interferes with your ears mechanism to remove the wax

Your ears have their own mechanism for cleaning. Usually, your ears are cleaned when you take a shower as water helps loosen the accumulated ear wax and allows it to come out on its own. The ear is designed in a spiral pattern so when the dead skin is shed, your earwax also comes out with it. The wax is also pushed out as a result of your jaw movements like chewing, yawning and talking.

Ear wax protects the ears

Ear wax is important as it protects your ear canal. It is composed of layers of skin, fatty acids, cholesterol and alcohol which helps prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi in the inner ear. It also lubricates the skin of your ears. While you must clean the excess buildup of earwax, do not overdo it.

Earbuds can cause earwax blockage

Using an earbud can block your ears. Earwax blockage can lead to dizziness, itching, loss of hearing and pain in the ears. It is important to realise nothing should be placed inside the ear to remove dirt and debris as it may prove to be dangerous.

Excessive removal of ear wax can lead to dryness

Ear wax plays a role in lubricating the skin of your ears. So, when you remove the wax, the skin becomes dry and itchy leaving your ears more prone to infections. Using a cotton bud to remove it can lead to injuries and other problems.

The eardrum is delicate and can be easily ruptured. You must be very careful  because trying to clean your ears may cause trauma and also lead to the bleeding of the ear. It is best to consult the ENT, using an ear drop will loosen the earwax and clean your ear. The outer part of the ear needs a good cleaning every now and then and you can do this cleaning while taking a bath.